Home SPORTS MPs call on FA to change transgender rules to ‘protect’ women’s football

MPs call on FA to change transgender rules to ‘protect’ women’s football

A group of 48 MPs and 27 peers have signed a letter urging the Football Association to change its rules on transgender inclusion to “protect women and girls” in football.

The letter calls on the FA to set an “unambiguous” single-sex policy.

It says the existing rules undermine fairness in the women’s game.

Several teams reportedly withdrew from games against a recreational side in Yorkshire last month after a shot by a transgender player injured an opponent.

“The FA is the most influential sporting body in the UK and it must show leadership,” the letter said.

“The FA is more than willing to issue crystal clear instructions to football clubs across the country on a whole range of different matters and yet on this issue it is turning a blind eye and is passing the buck to individual clubs and managers who must decide whether to allow registered trans players to join their teams.

“We therefore ask that, without further delay, the FA acts to protect women and girls’ football by banning all natalmales from playing in women’s teams.”

The letter was sent by Miriam Cates and co-signed by 42 Conservative MPs, two Labour MPs, two from the Democratic Unionist Party and one from the Alba Party, along with 27 members of the House of Lords.

The FA’s transgender policy states that English law does allow separate competitions to be organised for men and women. However, it states players may apply to play in a league of their “affirmed gender” – that is, the gender they identify as, rather than their birth sex – and each application will be considered on a case-by-case basis, determined by the “safety of the applicant and other players” and “fair competition”.

BBC Sport has approached the FA for comment.

In November, four teams reportedly withdrew from matches against Rossington Main Ladies, who play in the first division of the Sheffield and Hallamshire Women and Girls League – the seventh tier of women’s football in England.

That came after a shot by a transgender woman reportedly led to an opposition player suffering what the letter describes as “a broken knee, an injury that will have long term consequences for her both on and off the pitch”.

In a now-deleted post on Rossington Main Ladies’ Facebook page last month, the player said she had quit football when rival clubs refused to take part in matches against her.

“As some of you may have heard, Rossington Main Ladies FC has faced challenges from teams unwilling to play against us while I am on the field,” the player wrote.

“This unfortunate circumstance has prompted me to investigate pursuing a case of discrimination, as I believe it represents a breach of the code of conduct regarding diversity and inclusion, as well as safeguarding of adults in football established by both the Football Association and the Sheffield and Hallamshire Women and Girls League.”

The letter from MPs and peers said the incident showed current policy for transgender inclusion in football “not only undermines the principle of fairness, it also threatens the safety of women and girls”.

“All sports rely on fair competition,” the letter added. “Teams or individuals must compete as far as possible on a level playing field.

“This is why football, like the vast majority of sports, segregates players by age and sex, to eliminate unfair advantages of size and strength and of course to ensure the safety of all players.”

In a social media post last month, Rossington Main said: “As a community grassroots football club and a Football Association accredited club, it is our duty to foster an inclusive environment for all individuals and abide by the Football Associations policies and guidelines.”

The letter described the situation as “unacceptable” and criticised the FA for not implementing a ban on transgender players from women’s football.

“Unlike the Rugby Football Union or British Cycling, the Football Association has not acted to protect women and girls,” it said.

In May, British Cycling announced it would ban transgender women from the female category of its competitions. There have been similar moves in athletics, swimming, triathlon and both codes of rugby.

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